Tuesday, March 25, 2008

For Your Height Only! Filipino Dwarf Spy Thriller

Weng Weng was a big action star in the 80's in the Philippines. Well, not physically of course. He was 2'9" but he had a lot of charm, style and some kick-ass kung fu moves. He starred in a number of James Bond spoofs, but For Y'ur Height Only was the first. The movies are delightfully tongue in cheek and all over the internet at this point, in fact I'm pretty sure most of the movie is on youtube, if you want to check it out yourself. It is also available on DVD and on Netflix. Or you can just watch this great fan trailer with many of the best scenes:



I'll come straight out and admit it- I've always been enthralled by Little People. It probably began with seeing Under the Rainbow and Billy Barty in Foul Play a thousand times on HBO as a kid. I even watched some of that reality show, "Little People, Big World" a few times. And I'm sort of a Peter Dinklage fanboy, but that's besides the point- this movie is hilarious.
It is considered bad form to make demands in a Klan hood.

The evil Mr. Giant has kidnapped Dr. Kohler and is holding the world hostage with his N-bomb. Mr. Giant is a shadowy unknown figure in the underworld with a huge army of bad guys in tropical shirts and mustaches. Thankfully the government provides Agent 00 with cool gadgets to defeat this menace. These include:
A Ring that Can Detect Poison! "This ring can detect all poisons. It's made out of gold. platinum was too expensive. Our budget is a problem"
A Tiny Jet Pack! This looks like two fire extinguishers and some hose, but it works surprisingly well.
A Remote Control Hat! Stolen directly from Oddjob and improved 100%.
A Tiny Break-Down Machinegun! Perfectly sized for Agent 00, this never runs out of ammo.
No nutsack is safe when Agent 00 is on the case!

He hunts down Mr. Giant's men at a dojo and even has a battle with samurai swords. His diminutive size makes it easy for him to sneak up on you and punch you in the nuts, though he is also capable of swinging up Yoda-style and choking you out with his legs, or sliding across the floor to trip you over and step on your neck.
Henchmen mystified by a hat on a string

When there are too many henchmen for Weng Weng to handle, he relies on the many gadgets they gave him. My personal fave was the remote-control Oddjob hat, which can be used to cloud men's minds. When things really get nasty it can also be used as a deadly weapon:

Agent 00 is just too much for them. The henchmen are assured that he's in league with Satan. "He's big pals with Lucifer!" They also compare him to an eel. "How the hell do you hold onto an eel?"
"Beaten by a lousy eel! We gonna hafta git outta town!" It's about as campy as What's Up Tiger Lily? and just as much fun.
Weng Weng isn't just a kung fu superstar, he's also a ladies' man. As any Bond clone must be, he is a killer with the ladies and rescues the "inside girl" they have in Mr. Giant's gang when she is exposed. And he is well rewarded.

When it's time for the final showdown, Agent 00 uses the last of his gadgets. I think he actually uses them in the sequence he is given them, which is either terribly clever or an amusing insight into how quickly the script was written. He jetpacks in to Mr. Giant's lair for the ultimate confrontation:
How can you not love a movie that makes a jet pack out of fire extinguishers? Besides, Weng Weng is so fetching in his white suit, and such a natural physical actor that the movie would be better without the campy dubbed dialogue. There are a lot of good sight gags, but the attempts at jokes added later by the dubbing team are pretty lame, like "Oh, I've got to run with these little feet!"
The best gag is that Mr. Giant is also a dwarf, albeit taller than Agent 00. They have their kung fu fight and of course our guy is victorious. Because height doesn't matter, when you're as smooth as Weng Weng!

There are a lot of "foreign oddity" movies, but the Weng Weng comedy/action spoofs are pretty entertaining in their own right, with that sort of quaint old-time charm of Hollywood silent films and stuff like Laurel & Hardy or the Three Stooges. There is a sequel called The Impossible Kid, which is pretty much the same movie with new gadgets and a lot more kung fu fights. He's got a little motorcycle, and fights a female karate master in her dojo. That will get its own review someday. It's actually better in some ways because the dubbing isn't insulting to Weng Weng. I also found another film called Wild Wild Weng, which despite sounding like a porno is another fun action flick that I need to watch sometime soon. when I do, you know you'll hear about it here.
Sadly, the big little star died in 1992. He'd been in movies since the 60's and is still listed as the shortest person in a leading role. It looks like fellow blogger Andrew Leavold is working on a documentary called The Search for Weng Weng that is coming out this year, and his blog has more information on the action star than I could ever hope to find. I'll be keeping an eye on his blog and hopefully will be able to see the movie.

RIP Weng Weng, you will live long in our memories.

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